CoolData blog

20 January 2010

Another take on Google’s Motion Charts

Filed under: Coolness, Data visualization, Free stuff — Tags: , , , , — kevinmacdonell @ 9:09 am

Late last year I posted a tutorial on creating Google motion charts with your data. These very cool charts work with your time-series data, stored in Google Docs, to create an animation with the power to convey a lot of information in an easily understandable form.

But what about private data? You may not want to rely on Google’s ability to password-protect your data, or the privacy provisions you work with may prohibit posting data to an outside server.

Here’s another way to take advantage of motion charts. I was put onto this by Trevor Skillen, President and CEO of Metasoft, in Vancouver BC, whose company is working on incorporating motion charts into their well-known FoundationSearch product.

This version uses stored code to manipulate your data locally, rather than pulling it from Google Docs.

The advantages are clear:

  • Your data is stored locally and the code is executed locally, in the browser – nothing is sent to Google.
  • You gain precise control over the appearance – you can hide options that the user doesn’t need to see.
  • The example code provided by Google is fairly easy to modify without requiring programming or scripting skills.

Trevor directed me to Google’s ‘playground’ where one can get a quick feel for the technology without much tech effort.

There is a downside … there is a good deal of manual coding you’ll have to do if you want to put a chart together using your own data. This limits you to fairly simple charts – unless you’re capable of writing the additional code that will allow the chart to get data from a file or table.


  1. Hi,

    Thank you for the useful tip.

    My data I’m trying to plot using the motion charts has hourly granularity.
    Do you happen to know whether it’s possible to add time (hours:minutes) to the date or only date is available?


    Comment by Artemi — 19 May 2010 @ 5:00 am

    • I haven’t had a chance to use the gadget in a while … does anyone else know?

      Comment by kevinmacdonell — 19 May 2010 @ 6:14 am

  2. Hi,

    Excellent article.

    You had mentioned that we can you use the chart locally, can you show us how?



    Comment by Dhaval — 15 September 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    • Unfortunately I’ve never done it myself. I’m hoping someone who has will happen by and help you out.

      Comment by kevinmacdonell — 15 September 2010 @ 12:52 pm

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